LFF #4 -- She, a Chinese

From the London Film Festival: continental drift

She, a Chinese
dir: Xiaolu Guo

Not too sure what to make of this one -- though I think it probably falls into the category of "nice idea, shame about the film". Xiaolu Guo is the author of two well-received novels about young Chinese women who have grown up during the country's rapid transformation. The lives of her characters resemble Guo's own trajectory, from a childhood in rural China, to working in the Beijing film industry, to living in London.

She, a Chinese follows the same pattern, but its protagonist, Li Mei, pictures the harsher side of China's economic miracle. A disaffected teen more interested in listening to her iPod than helping her mother with chores, Mei runs away to Chongqing, where she ends up working as a prostitute. She then moves to London, where she gets a visa by marrying an old Englishman, though the relationship soon disintegrates.

Unfortunately the angry young woman narrative that worked well in her books falls flat on screen. Are we supposed to feel as listless about Mei as she looks? We rush through too many different settings for the relations between characters to develop; if that's a comment on the transience of migrant life, then other elements, such as the experience of the cities Mei passes through, are not strong enough to make up for it. Having said that, the film creates a nice affinity between the backstreets of Chongqing and the London takeaway shop in which Mei ends up living. Plus, there's one fantastic shot: a slow pan of the view in Chongqing, a sense-defying sprawl of large but mediocre tower blocks and endless grey smog.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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Katy Perry just saved the Brits with a parody of Donald Trump and Theresa May

Our sincerest thanks to the pop star for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to a very boring awards show.

Now, your mole cannot claim to be an expert on the cutting edge of culture, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on in 2017, it’s that the Brit Awards are more old hat than my press cap. 

Repeatedly excluding the genres and artists that make British music genuinely innovative, the Brits instead likes to spend its time rewarding such dangerous up-and-coming acts as Robbie Williams. And it’s hosted by Dermot O’Leary.

Which is why the regular audience must have been genuinely baffled to see a hint of political edge entering the ceremony this year. Following an extremely #makeuthink music video released earlier this week, Katy Perry took to the stage to perform her single “Chained to the Rhythm” amongst a sea of suburban houses. Your mole, for one, doesn’t think there are enough model villages at popular award ceremonies these days.

But while Katy sang of “stumbling around like a wasted zombie”, and her house-clad dancers fell off the edge of the stage, two enormous skeleton puppets entered the performance in... familiar outfits.

As our Prime Minister likes to ask, remind you of anyone?

How about now?

Wow. Satire.

The mole would like to extend its sincerest lukewarm thanks to Katy Perry for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to one of the most vanilla, status-quo-preserving awards ceremonies in existence. 

I'm a mole, innit.